Readers Respond

December 30, 2009

Obama partly responsible for security failures

I find it interesting that The Baltimore Sun suggests there is no responsibility on President Barack Obama for the failure to keep the Islamic terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding the Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit ("Heeding warning signs," Dec. 29) by saying "Homeland Security officials have been following the same procedures developed by the Bush administration that had to deal with the Reid episode weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks." Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano used the same reasoning to defend their lack of preventive actions.

Since the inauguration, Mr. Obama and his staff have continuously blasted the eight years of the Bush administration at every possible moment to support their political agenda, with no objections from the media. But when Mr. Obama's policy fails, especially in defending America, he and his staff are quick to take cover under one of George W. Bush's policies, with the support of the media.

Yes, there was a failure in the security system, and it rests not only on the lap of Janet Napolitano but - in the famous words of President Harry Truman when he said "The buck stops here" - it also rests on the lap of Mr. Obama. Exactly when will the media decide it is time to hold Mr. Obama accountable for his administration's failures? Based on current media actions, I suspect never.

Ron Wirsing, Havre de Grace

GOP response to terrorism is dangerous for the country

Thank you for your editorial concerning lapses in security that resulted in the Christmas day airline bombing attempt.

I was chagrined by the GOP reflex response laying blame on President Obama, and suggest that in constantly attempting to bring down a duly elected sitting president for every imaginable selfish reason, irresponsible congressional Republicans can be as great a danger to the strength of this nation as any possible enemy terrorist organization in the world.

Elizabeth W. Goldsborough, Owings Mills

Airline security overseas is inadequate

I recently returned from a trip to England and thought the screening procedure at Heathrow Airport was very inadequate. I was not only disgusted with their complacency, but very concerned about my safety. The screeners paid no attention to the passengers, no one took their shoes off, and I couldn't believe how lax it all appeared. In fact, the screeners were more involved with each other than with screening the passengers. (I suppose they think that a bomber will be so exhausted after the mile and a half walk to the gate that he wouldn't have the energy to set off a bomb.)

No matter how vigilante we are, if the rest of the world is like Heathrow, I am not surprised that this poor excuse for a human being got through. That is no excuse, however, for the fact that this person got a visa to the U.S. It does make you wonder who's in charge there and who they are hiring. If a warning by a father is missed, what else are they missing? And if the people who are empowered to protect us by examining requests to enter the U.S. are failing to live up to their responsibilities, all the wars fought overseas are moot.

M Hadley

Yiddish lessons are still available at senior centers

Your Monday front page story on UM dropping the study of Yiddish brings to mind that Yiddish is alive and well in Pikesville. Yiddish is being taught and spoken every Friday morning at the Pikesville Senior Center, 1301 Reisterstown Road, from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m., where you can enjoy poetry, skits, stories and jokes in Yiddish in an informal setting at no cost.

Helen Bronstein, Towson The writer is the programming manager of the Baltimore County Division of Senior Centers & Community Services.

Katrina disaster was man-made, not natural

I take severe umbrage at the sentence, "After Hurricane Katrina, we learned that the kind of chaos that ensues after a natural disaster in a Third World country can happen here" ("For many, a decade to forget," Dec. 27). This was NOT a natural disaster!

Katrina wasn't the entity that put New Orleans in a toxic, fetid soup, left her citizens in calamitous conditions and caused damage in the billions of dollars.

The storm passed by; New Orleans survived. High winds and much rain weren't catastrophic. Nor was this "the big one," a Category 3, with the eye missing the city.

Shoddily designed and constructed levees, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, resulted in this federal flood.

Levees weren't high enough. Overtopping (bad enough) eroded underlying structures at the foot. Levees weren't armored. Sand was used instead of solid clay. Sheet pilings driven in to hold them were too short to hold.

This disaster was man-made. Given properly engineered and constructed levees, we'd have seen a different outcome.

This event was far too painful, and has cost the citizens of New Orleans (and the rest of the country) far too dearly, to keep perpetuating the myth that Katrina flooded the city.

Deborah Prentice, Salem, Mass.

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